Thursday, April 4, 2013

from Pea Soup Andersons to Solvang

Heading north from Santa Barbara, the freeway hugs the coast with a number of pull-outs and some 'once'-wonderful state parks--right on the water.  However, I checked on two of the parks and found locked gates with no one around.  I fear that this is, once again, the result of budget cuts.  There is just not enough money to staff the parks.  Both state and national parks everywhere I've been show signs of neglect.  If it weren't for the volunteer programs--mainly the retired folk like me acting as hosts and janitors for a free night or two stay--all the lesser parks would simply cease to exist.  At several places I found the 'honor system' with a sign instructing visitors to 'put their money in an envelope and drop it in the box on the door.' At one of those places the box had been broken open and, of course, it was empty.  Am I crazy for thinking parks should be a bigger priority in our nation...

Wow!  Don't get me started now on the conditions of our roads and highways.  And speaking of roads-I took a few side trips along the way--the fields of wild mustard, poppies and thistles were just beautiful and a perfect setting for an afternoon snooze.

The road turned inland at Gaviota and climbed sharply to the tunnel at the summit.  Years ago the kids would get all excited at this juncture of the trip--begging us to stop at Pea Soup Anderson's in Buellton.
It's funny--I often made pea soup at home but I do not think it was a particular favorite for my kids.  However, this place was their idea of 'haute cuisine'.

When I told my daughter, Janice, that I had stopped there for lunch she asked if their logo was the same--a fat guy with a raised hammer and a little shrimp of a fellow holding the splitter over the pea. 'I always loved that sign,' she said.
'Yep, it's still there.  By the way, do you remember the soup...' I wondered.
'Not really,' she replied.
All you marketers out there--take note.  Hook the kids.  Sell the packaging.  What's inside isn't all that important.  Hmm, I think you knew that already.

It is one of the most successful 'Mom and Pop' restaurants in the country and it has hardly changed at all in over 40 years.  I often see their soup in the grocery stores but I still prefer to make my own.

In Buellton the menu features 'all-you-can-eat' pea soup accompanied by homemade onion bread.  Years ago it was $5 and now it is $10--while the kids prices still make it a bargain.  I had two bowls full.

It is just a short drive down the road from pea soup to Danish desserts.  Solvang is in the heart of the Santa Ynez valley and looks exactly as if it were designed by Disney--except it wasn't.

Granted, this town of 3000 has its share of t-shirt shops and tacky souvenir stores but the town was actually started over 100 years ago by a handful of Danish families looking for a more gentle climate than the one they'd left behind in Denmark and the mid-west.

What they do have in abundance here is some of the finest bakeries and tea rooms you will find anywhere in the country.  Their pastries are so good that, once upon a time, we featured them in our restaurants in Santa Barbara.

Beautifully clean and well-kept, the architecture of the town feels European.  The Danes are descendants of the original families, and are still the primary business owners.

Son Tom, this one's for you....

When he was 3 or 4 years old, Tom climbed into this shoe and I have a cherished picture of him sitting there and smiling from ear to ear.  I love that the shoe--and the shoe shop--are still there.

But these signs were now popping up everywhere and I knew that I would not be doing any 'stealth parking' in this tiny town for the night.  Time to move on--besides there was a small drip, drip appearing under the RV.  I probably needed a new rubber gasket or some such thing and would
have it looked at in a town further on...

1 comment:

  1. A lot of family history there from my Donahue forebears. I've only been there once myself, though.